Every year, New York Comic Con changes and grows, and they get most of it right, and some of it wrong. Every year, during the last hour of the show, Lance Fensterman and his senior team sit down and take questions from the audience regarding how well the show went, what concerns attendees have, and even taking suggestions on how to make the show a better place.
Joining Lance (Global Vice President of ReedPOP) were Brian Stephenson (Brand Marketing Director), Mike Armstrong (Sales Manager), and Kim Muller (Content and Talent Director).So… here are the various issues raised, in chronological order, paraphrased:
Will the new badge system continue?
Yes. Lance mentioned that on Saturday, from 9AM until roughly Noon, approximately 55,000 attendees tapped in. By not needing to check badges once inside Javits, traffic seemed to move much more smoothly.
While waiting for some panels, some people were waiting in line for panels which would not commence for many hours. (Line camping.) Could this be fixed?
Like hall camping, it’s not an easy thing to fix. ReedPOP did make adjustments with the large panel rooms up front in Hall 1A, moving the information booth further back on Friday.
Could ReedPOP add a third stage? (To complement 1D and 1E.)
Yes. Lance then asked the crowd, if there was a shuttle bus to, say, the Ziegfeld Theater for an event, would people use it? YES!
Could ReedPOP run a contest for fan art, possibly for publication on the program cover?
Yes and No. Yes, a contest sounds like a great idea. No, the covers are usually claimed by Marvel or DC for promotion.
Could video games be placed in their own area?
Mike Armstrong answered this one. Video games are placed up front to generate excitement for attendees. The placement also directs much of the noise out into the concourse, and not into other nearby booths.
Could ReedPOP mark elevators so that users know which floors they go to?
Might ReedPOP get rid of the queue hall and use that space for something else?
The lines would be kept outside, where weather is a concern. Tent rental would be costly.
During the morning opening of the stage for The Walking Dead, there was a mad dash for seats, causing injury.
Lance apologized to the attendee, and will place better security staff at that hall.
Kim Muller asked if attendees enjoyed the DJ keeping the queue crowd entertained. Most did.
The queue hall chutes were too wide, and some line jumping was noticed.
Not an easy fix.
There needs to be a better way of working the line. There were lots of empty seats at some of the main stage events.
A runner is needed to check capacity.
There was some concern over seats reserved for medical badges. Some seats might have been used by other people.
20 seats are reserved for medical badge holders. The signage for those seats is not perfect, but they will work to correct it. (One attendee suggested seating of a different color instead of using signs or slip covers.
The Family Room was a nice idea, but sometimes became crowded as adults visited certain panels.
This was a new experiment, and wildly successful. Consideration will be given to moving “adult-friendly” kids events outside of the space.
Can something be done about the traffic jams caused by photographers taking cosplay photos in the aisles and elsewhere?
Yes, to a degree. C2E2 has placed large backdrops at that show to encourage photography away from high traffic areas. A similar setup was planned for the southern corner, but was scuttled when DC Comics used the space for their Superman exhibit. There are many blank walls where this could be done. One attendee suggested that franchises and genre meetups be scheduled for group photos. Otherwise, there will always be traffic jams in the aisles.
With the new RFID badges, could ReedPOP replicate the Fast Pass system at Disney theme parks?
This is problematic as people would wait in line to make a reservation, instead of waiting in line to get into a panel. Does ReedPOP turn it into a lottery, creating some resentment?
Could anime panels get more space? Panels were only held in one small panel room.
Every program track had space issues, and ReedPOP works hard trying to figure out the best configuration for rooms in 1A.
Lance mentioned that there was some thought to spreading events out into the city.
Does ReedPOP keep track of which panels are popular?
Yes. They count how many people are in line. How many people attended each panel. How many were turned away.
Last year, elevators were turned off to deal with congestion. That didn’t happen much this year. Why?
Unlike other venues, the elevators in Javits cannot be reversed. Sometimes the elevator will be turned off so that it syncs with the other escalator. Attendees were universal in the idea of a “No Stop Zone” at the escalator landings. (Really, this should be common sense. Me, I just keep moving, and if I have to shove my way through, I just tell the offended parties that there are more people coming up right behind me, and I’m trying to avoid a major accident.)
The Press Area seemed to have too much empty space, and was difficult to reach.
There were elevators (although I was hesitant to use them, afraid I’d be delivered somewhere I should not be).
Please publicize the opening of the 7 train as a convenient way to get to Javits.
ReedPOP will, when the MTA finishes and opens the station. (2015 is the expected date.)
The food trucks were great! Could there be more?
The Javits has an exclusive food vendor. ReedPOP was able to convince the convention center that, due to many eateries inside being closed (such as those near 3E), that two trucks were required to feed ReedPOP employees. They will try to keep that two truck exemption in place for next year!
Could the “End of Line” place holders also be given a sign which would state “Line Capped”? And could the lines be signed so attendees know which panel the line is for?
At the main stage panels, there was a rush to the microphone. Could that be bettered managed?
Yes. Perhaps attendees submit questions in advance, and the moderator selects the question. (This would eliminate the “can I get a hug?” comments. Or perhaps they are submitted via Twitter.
Could the autographing listings include a photo, as was seen in the Artist Alley listings?
While the NYCC app updated events, notifications were not sent. Could this be done.
There were gaps in the main stage waiting lines, allowing for people to sneak in.
Better security will be in place.
Could the VIP/Ultimate Access passes be segregated by fan interests? Anime, comics, TV/movies…
Were the balconies in 1-D used?
Yes. Sometimes it is hard to see people seated in that section.
Could ReedPOP send out a confirmation email when the RFID badge is activated online?
Yes. Next year!
Could ReedPOP give a better clarification about the professional panels scheduled for Thursday before the sales floor opens?
Yes. Since non-professional attendees are not permitted inside Javits until the opening, they would be unable to attend the panels anyway. Lance did agree that there should be better notification and advisories when listing the events online.
Brian then asked, did anyone notice the new signage? Some did. (I did not.)
Wrapping up the panel, Lance Fensterman reiterated that the motto of ReedPOP is “fans first”, and they try their best to make each show better.
He then stated,
“This is the best effing [sic] comic con ever!”
…and I would agree. Each has something new and improved, and no matter what goes wrong, the ReedPOP crew works hard to correct mistakes, and improve on what went right.
Random surveys will be sent out to attendees. You can also contact Team NYCC via the ReedPOP website. The Con is scheduled next year for October 9-12, 2014.